- Group:Worthing College
Costa Rica 2018
- Age:16-17 years old
- Group Size:11
- Project:Care & Conservation
- Destination:Costa Rica
Our group of nine students and two teachers from Worthing College teamed up to fund raise before jetting off to Costa Rica to take part in a care and conservation project. We put our heads together and came up with plans to sell doughnuts, run a raffle, and host our all-important quiz night. In order to get to know each other, we had a few social meet-ups and even a camping weekend, which was a great bonding experience ahead of the big trip!
After the 11 hour plane journey we were greeted by our friendly guide Luis, who took us to the hostel where we stayed for the first half of our trip. We immediately felt the warmth of what had been called the ‘winter’ of Costa Rica. Our first dose of Costa Rican culture was seeing how hectic the road traffic was! We were warmly welcomed by the lovely hosts and were treated to the traditional Costa Rican dish we became so familiar with plenty of rice, beans and chicken. We were very impressed by pineapple juice and the snazzy pudding that followed.
Our first part of the project was volunteering at the local school in Heredia, there was a range of ages, the oldest children being 9, and the youngest being just babies. We were split off into pairs to begin some activities with the children; we played football, went outside on the climbing frames, played with plasticine (still very enjoyable for us even at our age!), drawing/ crafting, dancing and even a magic show and sing-a-long! Despite the language barriers, we still had a lot of fun with the children and they enjoyed having visitors too.
We returned to the school for the second time. We had a mini carnival with masks, feathers, music, and of course dancing. Afterwards, we were challenged to a football match, and (despite our best efforts) couldn’t compete with the skill of the young Costa Rican team.
It was an enlightening experience to support them during lessons and help at mealtimes as we witnessed many cultural differences and such enthusiasm from the children. These mornings were made most enjoyable by the fun activities like sports and crafts, where everyone in the school would get involved, making it feel like a real community.
The afternoons allowed us to explore the bustling city of San José, have a Spanish language taster session, and attend dance lessons in traditional styles. To give us a taste of real Costa Rican culture, we also enjoyed an evening in a traditional restaurant, ‘Ram Luna’, with fantastic views, food and entertainment.
Barra Honda National Reserve
Our journey to Barra Honda National Park was long but we took the opportunity to get some rest. In true Costa Rican style, we were offered great hospitality from the moment we arrived, and the park rangers ran through our activities for the week, ready to get straight into it the next morning! The conservation part of the project was hard but rewarding work, as we took part in a monkey trail, caving tour, bat and butterfly captures, and more. We faced some real challenges, dealing with humid conditions, demanding hikes, and lots of creepy crawlies! However, it was more than worth it for our unforgettable experience and to see such captivating nature.
One night after dinner, we ventured out into the night, head-torches strapped on and drowned in bug repellent. We walked through the forest in darkness, just for a short while, until we reached the bat capture nets. When we reached the net, a small fruit bat had been caught. After being untangled, the bats forearms and wings were measured and this information was recorded before it was let go, back into the forest. This fruit bat was a female, and was either pregnant or currently breastfeeding.
We then went back to the net a second time after a while, to see if any other bats had been captured. A pretty feisty little bat had been captured. This bat was actually a vampire bat. It feeds on the blood of large mammals such as pigs or cows. After measuring this bat, using gloves as he was slightly more dangerous than the fruit eating bat, he was released back into the wild. The net was taken down, and we returned back to camp with a newfound love for bats.
On Wednesday we faced the long and sweaty walk up the hill for the 3rd and final time, waiting at the top for us this time was the first activity of the day: the butterfly survey.
We split into 2 groups and, over the distance of a certain trail, we attempted to catch all of the butterflies (mariposas) that we saw. This proved very difficult as we weren’t quite as fast or skilled in butterfly capture as we may have thought, however it was quite entertaining to watch each other swing giant nets around with next to no awareness of what was around us.
The data collected from surveys like this allows the volunteers at the park to estimate populations for different species of butterfly and in turn help to preserve each species by giving help to the ones that need it most.
Of course, we had some downtime amongst all our volunteer work to appreciate all Costa Rica has to offer! The weekend was fun packed and saw us zip lining through the jungle, taking a tour of a coffee plantation, and exploring the waters of Coco Beach through snorkelling. This was the break we needed to see more of this beautiful country and rejuvenate before starting our next project in the jungle. As a group of keen coffee drinkers we were all looking forward to the coffee production tour. Our guides seemed very enthusiastic, entertaining us with their presentation as we walked through the gardens. The tour was an enjoyable experience and gave us a good insight into the world of Costa Rican coffee. The highlight had to be when Julia starred as a volunteer, demonstrating how to taste coffee like a real expert.
“Each and every one of us took something different away from this trip but we all agreed it was a valuable experience, full of personal achievements and opening our eyes to the culture. We had the chance to mix with other volunteers and, for those of us learning Spanish, it was also a wonderful opportunity to interact with the friendly locals. Throughout the whole trip, Projects Abroad staff were on hand to look after us and they made the trip the best it could be. It was an incredible experience that will stay with us all.” - Tia Wray
“Our trip to Costa Rica was an amazing experience that allowed us to experience the culture and cuisine of Costa Rica. It allowed us to see first-hand the projects being carried out in Costa Rica, which for them make a huge difference and allowed you to see first-hand how lucky we are for the small things we don't always appreciate”. - Alice White
“The trip to Costa Rica was enlightening, educational and great fun. Personally, I found it very useful to play a part in some of the conservation techniques that I have studied in A-level biology and also I feel that my Spanish speaking has improved a great deal since having the opportunity to communicate with the locals in the city and our guides in Barra Honda”. – Kara Lover
“Massive thanks Julia and Wayne for all the work that you put in to ensure that this trip went ahead, it’s an experience that none of us will ever forget and we have gained so much from it”. – Oli Williams
“It was an amazing experience in an amazing country. Being able to get involved with and learn about conservation projects in such a beautiful place was brilliant.” - Ewan Waters
“Costa Rica was the most incredible experience. It pushed me out of my comfort zone at times, but I learnt so much and had so many laughs, and saw so many insane and beautiful aspects in the country which is such a contrast to England.” - Isabella Stuart
“An amazing experience, with amazing people. Can’t wait to visit Costa Rica again, the staff, local culture and wildlife were amazing. “ - Aimee Collis
“An amazing and a once in a lifetime trip.” - Charlie Bond
If you would like to learn more about our Care & Conservation Project in Costa Rica then please click here.
If you would like to learn more about our Conservation Projects then please click here.